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Tax evasion: Guests stranded as IRS seals Enugu hotel

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The Enugu State Internal Revenue Service sealed several hotels on Friday, following a court order obtained on November 29.

According to the PUNCH, several guests and workers were stranded as officials executed the closure, restricting access to and from the premises.

The court order sought to compel businesses to settle outstanding pay-as-you-earn tax, development levy, and companies withholding tax owed to the state government.

The arrears spanned from 2015 to 2020 for some entities and from 2018 to 2021 for others.

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The enforcement team, acting on the court directive, embarked on an early-morning operation to seal the identified defaulting hotels and businesses.

However, the situation took an unexpected turn when guests and workers found themselves confined to the premises.

One of the affected hotels, La Virgin Suites & Residence, faced disruptions as high-profile guests reportedly missed flights and business engagements due to the closure.

The enforcement team allowed only guests without vehicles to exit through back gates, while main entrances remained sealed.

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Taxi drivers attempting to pick up clients also found their vehicles detained by the officials.

A taxi driver explained his ordeal: “I came to the hotel here to pick up my client who had a 7:40 am flight. As I drove into the hotel premises and started calling my client that I was around, I noticed the unusual movement of people who looked like task force people.”

In response to the situation, the Chairman of ESIRS, Ekene Nnamani, clarified that the tax audit revealed non-compliance by numerous institutions over the past seven years.

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Nnamani emphasized that the intention was not to harm businesses but to enforce tax obligations.

He stated, “Our intention is not actually to destroy businesses, but to announce to the whole people of Enugu that we are not joking with our taxes.”

The affected businesses were urged to settle their outstanding taxes to avoid prolonged closures and further legal actions.

 

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